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J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q.

22 (2) 245264 (2008)

245

Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and Application of Lactic Acid


J. Vijayakumar,a R. Aravindan,b,* and T. Viruthagiric
a M. Tech Industrial Biotechnology,
b Lecturer in Chemical Engineering,
c
Professor and Head, Department of Chemical Engineering,
Biochemical Engineering Laboratory, Annamalai University,
Annamalai nagar 608002, Tamil nadu, India

Review
Received: March 12, 2007
Accepted: September 15, 2007

Lactic acid, a naturally occurring multifunctional organic acid, is a valuable industrial chemical used as an acidulant, preservative in the food industry, pharmaceutical, leather, and textile industries, as well as a chemical feedstock. One of
the most promising applications of lactic acid is its use for biodegradable and
biocompatible lactate polymers, such as polylactic acid. Lactic acid can be produced
either by fermentation or by chemical synthesis but the biotechnological fermentation
process has received significant importance due to environmental concerns, use of
renewable resources instead of petrochemicals, low production temperature, low energy
requirements and high purity. There are numerous investigations on the development
of biotechnological methods for lactic acid production, with an ultimate objective to
enable the process to be more efficient and economical. This review discusses the various recent fermentation technologies to produce lactic acid, different microorganisms involved in the production of lactic acid, purification and wide industrial applications of
lactic acid.
Key words:
Lactic acid, lactic acid bacteria, fermentation, purification, applications

Introduction
Lactic acid has a long history of uses for fermentation and preservation of human foodstuffs. It
was first discovered in sour milk by Scheele in
1780, who initially considered it a milk component.
In 1789, Lavoisier named this milk component
acide lactique, which became the possible origin
of the current terminology for lactic acid. In 1857,
however, Pasteur discovered that it was not a milk
component, but a fermentation metabolite generated
by certain microorganisms. In 1839, Fremy, produced lactic acid by fermentation of carbohydrates
such as sucrose, lactose, mannitol, starch and
dextrin. The first commercial production of lactic
acid started in the United States by a microbial process in 1881.
Lactic acid is produced by humans, animals,
plants and microorganisms. Lactic acid is the
simplest hydroxyl carboxylic acid with an
asymmetrical carbon atom. Lactic acid occurs
naturally in two optical isomers, D() and L(+)-lactic
acids. Since elevated levels of the D-isomer
are harmful to humans, L(+)-lactic acid is the preferred isomer in food and pharmaceutical industries.1,2
* Correspondence:

E-mail: donaravind@yahoo.com
Phone: 91-4144-239737

COOH
COOH
|
|
HOC*H
HC*OH
|
|
CH3
CH3
L(+) lactic acid
D() lactic acid
* asymmetric carbon atom
C
The L(+) form of lactic acid is used for food
and drug industry, because the human body is only
adapted to assimilate this form. Lactic acid is a
valuable industrial chemical used in the food industry and in numerous other applications in the pharmaceutical, leather and textile industries, and also
for the production of biodegradable and
biocompatible polylactate polymers, such as
polylactic acid (PLA), an environmentally friendly
alternative to biodegradable plastics.35 Polylactide
is used for the preparation of scaffolds for
biocompatible artificial organs, self-dissolving sutures and as a means for sustained drug release.3
Owning to the unique property of PLA, lactic acid
has the potential to be a substitute for biodegradable plastics manufacture and becomes a very
large-volume commodity chemical intermediate.35
Lactic acid can be produced commercially by
either chemical or biochemical methods as shown
in Fig. 1. The most commonly used synthetic

246

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

F i g . 1 Overview of the two manufacturing methods of lactic acid; chemical synthesis (a)
and microbial fermentation (b) SSF represents simultaneous saccharification and
fermentation

method for chemical production of lactic acid is


based on the hydrolysis of lactonitrile, derived from
acetaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.15 The biotechnological process may yield either form [D(+) or
L(+)] alone, or a mixture in different proportions of
two isomers, depending on the microorganism, substrate and growth conditions used, whereas the
chemical production only results in a mixture of the
two isomers.1,6,7 Another significant advantage over
the chemical synthesis is that biological production
can use cheap raw materials, such as whey, molasses, starch waste, beet and cane-sugar and other carbohydrate-rich materials.711 In commercial processes, sugars and starches have been widely used
as substrates for biological production of lactic
acid. The most effective way for L-lactic acid synthesis is through biosynthesis rather than chemical
process.
Lactic acid has been classified by the US FDA
(Food and Drug Administration) as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)3 for use as a food additive,
and it has been utilized in a broad range of applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries.3,12,13 At present, 90 % of the world production
of lactic acid is by bacterial fermentation and the
rest is produced synthetically. The worldwide market growth is increasing every year and the production in 2006 was about 68,000 tons per year. The
worldwide market growth is expected to be between 10 % and 15 % per year14 The Dutch Company CCA, together with its holding in Spain and
Brazil produces 20,000 25,000 tons per year.
Croda, United Kingdom produces about 25,000
tons per year. Synthetic lactic acid is produced by
sterling in United States (5,000 tons per year) and

Musashino in Japan (7,000 tons per year).15 Cargill


Dow LLC, the primary US manufacturer of PLA,
has reported that the global PLA market might expand to 5,000,000 tons per year by 2010. Therefore,
considerable increase in the worldwide demand for
lactic acid is definitely expected in the coming
years.

Characteristics of lactic acid bacteria


Lactic acid bacteria are usually gram-positive,
non-motile, non-spore-forming rods and cocci.
They lack the ability to synthesize cytochromes and
porphyrins (components of respiratory chains) and
therefore cannot generate ATP by creation of a proton gradient. Since they do not use oxygen in their
energy production, lactic acid bacteria grow under
anaerobic conditions, but they can also grow in the
presence of oxygen. They are protected from oxygen byproducts (e.g. H2O2) because they have
peroxidases and these organisms are aero tolerant
anaerobes. They are differentiated from other organisms by their ability to ferment hexoses to lactic
acid. Lactic acid bacteria can be divided into homo
fermentative and hetero fermentative based upon
the products produced from the fermentation of glucose. Homo fermentative organisms ferment glucose to two moles of lactic acid, generating a net of
2 ATP per mole of glucose metabolized. Lactic acid
is the major product of this fermentation. Hetero
fermentative lactic acid bacteria ferment 1 mole of
glucose to 1 mole of lactic acid, 1 mole of ethanol,
and 1 mole of CO2. One mole of ATP is generated
per mole of glucose, resulting in less growth per

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

mole of glucose metabolized. Because of the low


energy yields, lactic acid bacteria often grow more
slowly than microbes capable of respiration, and
produce smaller colonies of 2 3 mm. Table 1
shows the list of homo and hetero fermentative lactic acid bacteria and configuration of lactic acid.16
It is easy to determine whether a lactic acid
bacterium has a homo or heterofermentative metabolism by the hot-loop test. A major end-product of
heterofermentation is CO2. In a medium containing
glucose this gas is highly soluble at high pH and
will stay in solution. If the temperature of the solution is increased; CO2 will become insoluble and
will be released in the gaseous form. The hot-loop
test consists of growing a test isolates to saturation
in a medium containing glucose. After incubation, a
wire loop (inoculating loop) is heated to redness
and plunged into the broth culture. This causes the
liquid around the loop to heat up. If a test microorganism is heterofermentative, CO2 bubbles will
evolve close to the loop. The homofermentative lactic acid bacteria usually metabolize glucose via the
Embden-Meyerhof pathway (i.e., glycolysis). The
two major pathways for better assimilation of
glucose and xylose in lactic acid are the
Embden-Mayerhof-Parnas (EMP) pathway and the
pentose phosphoketolase (PK) pathway shown in
Fig. 2. The lactic acid bacteria have limited biosynthetic ability, requiring amino acids, B vitamins,
purines, pyrimidines and typically a sugar as carbon
and energy source.

F i g . 2 Simplified illustration of EMP pathway and PK


pathway in the left and right side respectively23

Microorganisms for the lactic acid


production
There are large number of species of bacteria
and some species of molds that possess the ability
to form relatively significant quantities of lactic
acid from carbohydrates. Lactic acid bacteria are
important not only for the desirable reactions which

247

they catalyze but also for the undesirable activities


which they promote.
Bacteria and fungi are the two groups of microorganisms that can produce lactic acid.12 Although
most investigations of lactic acid production were
carried out with lactic acid bacteria (LAB), filamentous fungi such as Rhizopus, utilize glucose aerobically to produce lactic acid.1719 Rhizopus species
such as R. oryzae and R. arrhizus have amylolytic
enzyme activity, which enables them to convert
starch directly to L(+)-lactic acid, but it also requires
vigorous aeration because R. oryzae is an obligate
aerobe.18 In fungal fermentation, the low production
rate, below P = 3 g L1 h1 is probably due to the
low reaction rate caused by mass transfer limitation.20 The lower product yield from fungal fermentation is attributed partially to the formation of byproducts, such as fumaric acid and ethanol.18
Several attempts have been made to achieve
higher cell density, lactic acid yield, and productivity in fungal fermentation. Haung et al.21 produced
lactic acid from potato starch wastewater using R.
oryzae and R. arrhizus. Park et al.22 produced lactic
acid from waste paper by using R. oryzae. Tay and
Yang18 immobilized R. oryzae cells in a fibrous bed
to produce lactic acid from glucose and starch.
Kosakai et al.19 cultured R. oryzae cells with the use
of mycelial floc formed by the addition of mineral
support and poly ethylene oxide. The microorganisms selected for recent investigations of the biotechnological production of lactic acid are listed in
Table 2.
Garde et al.23 obtained lactic acid from wheat
straw hemicellulose by using mixed culture of
Lactobacillus pentosus and Lactobacillus brevis.
Yun et al.24 investigated the production of lactic
acid from single and mixed sugars using
Enterococcus faecalis RKY1. The volumetric productivity, cell growth and concentration of lactic
acid were highest in glucose/fructose (mixed sugar)
than single sugar. Rivas et al.25 produced lactic acid
from corn cobs by simultaneous saccharification
and fermentation using Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Wee et al.26 reported the economical L(+)-lactic
acid production from sugar molasses by batch fermentation of Enterococcus faecalis. Kourkoutas et
al.27 used immobilized Lactobacillus casei cell on
fruit pieces to produce lactic acid. Narita et al.28 reported the efficient production of L(+)-lactic acid
from raw starch by Streptococcus bovis 148.
Chauhan et al.29 used the statistical screening of
medium components by Placket-Burman design for
lactic acid production by Lactobacillus sp. KCP01
using date juice. Patil et al.30 produced lactic acid
from cane sugar using mutant of Lactobacillus
delbrueckii NCIM 2365. John et al.31 reported the

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J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

T a b l e 1 Homo and heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria and configuration of lactic acid
Genera
and species

HomoHeteroConfiguration
fermentative fermentative of lactic acid

Lactobacillus
L. delbrueckii

D()

L. lactis

D()

L. bulgaricus

D()

L. casei

L(+)

L. plantarum

DL

L. curvatus

DL

L. brevis

DL

L. fermentum

DL

D()

S. faecalis

L(+)

S. cremoris

L(+)

S. lactis

L(+)

L. mesenteroides

D()

L. dextranicum

D()

DL

L(+)

Sporolactobacillus
S. inulinus
Streptococcus

Leuconostoc

Pediococcus
P. damnosus
Bifidobacterium
B. bifidum

solid state fermentation for L-lactic acid production


from agro wastes using Lactobacillus delbrueckii.
Amrane and Prigent32 designed a two-stage continuous reactor to produce lactic acid from lactose by
using Lactobacillus helveticus and obtained high
product concentration of lactic acid at very low dilution rate. Senthuran et al.33 explained lactic acid
production by immobilized Lactobacillus casei in
recycle batch reactor. Fu and Mathews34 reported
the lactic acid production from lactose by Lactobacillus plantarum. Nolasco-Hipolito et al.35 explained the continuous production of L(+)-lactic acid
from hydrolyzed sago starch using Lactobacillus
lactis. Amrane36 reported the unstructured models
for biomass formation, substrate consumption and
lactic acid production from whey using Lactobacillus helveticus.

Nancib et al.37 explained the joint effect of nitrogen sources and B-vitamin supplementation of
date juice on lactic acid production by Lactobacillus casei sub sp. rhamnosus. Oh et al.38 used
agricultural resources for the production of lactic
acid by Enterococcus faecalis.
Schepers et al.39 reported the continuous lactic
acid production in whey permeate with immobilized Lactobacillus helveticus. Ohkouchi and
Inoue40 studied the direct production of L(+)-lactic
acid from starch and food wastes using Lactobacillus manihotivorans LMG 18011. Vasala et al.41
used high salt containing dairy products to produce
lactic acid by using Lactobacillus Salivarius ssp.
Salicinius.
Xu et al.42 reported the development of a continuous cell-recycle fermentation system for production of lactic acid by Lactobacillus paracasei.
Xu et al.43 used mixed culture of Lactobacillus sake
and Lactobacillus casei for the production of lactic
acid from soybean stalk hydrolysate. Sakai et al.44
reported the production of lactic acid in pH-swing
open fermentation of kitchen refuse by selective
proliferation of Lactobacillus plantarum.
Berry et al.55 produced lactic acid by batch culture of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in a defined medium. Burgos-Rubio et al.53 reported the kinetic investigation of the conversion of different substrates
into lactic acid with the use of Lactobacillus
bulgaricus. Hujanen and Linko52 investigated the
effects of culture temperature and nitrogen sources
on lactic acid production by Lactobacillus casei.
Bustos et al.51 used Lactobacillus pentosus for the
production of lactic acid from vine-trimming
wastes. The strains of amylase-producing Lactobacillus amylophilus were used often for the direct
conversion of starch into lactic acid.13,50,61 However,
among the genus Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus
delbrueckii has appeared commonly in many investigation for the production of lactic acid, Kutzanmanidis et al.45 used Lactobacillus delbrueckii
NC1MB 8130 for lactic acid production from beet
molasses. Monteagudo et al.62 and Goksungur et
al.46 also attempted to produce lactic acid from beet
molasses with Lactobacillus delbrueckii. Several
amylolytic lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus
amylophilus,63,64 Lactobacillus amylovorus65 and
Lactobacillus plantarum A666 can convert starch directly to lactic acid. The most common bacterium
for the industrial production of lactic acid is Lactobacillus delbrueckii, which is employed in fermentations utilizing corn dextrose media. Other bacteria
of industrial importance include Lactobacillus
bulgaricus, which utilizes lactose as a carbon
source and finds use in lactic acid production from
whey media, and Lactobacillus pentosus, which is
able to utilize the pentoses of sulfite waste liquor

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J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

T a b l e 2 Microorganisms used in recent investigations of the biotechnological production of lactic acid


Lactic acid

Microorganism

g (g L

1)

Yield
Y (g

g1)

Productivity
P (g L1 h1)

Ref.

Enterococcus faecalis

95.7

0.94

4.0

26

Lactobacillus delbrueckii NC1MB8130

90.0

0.97

3.8

45

Lactobacillus delbrueckii IFO 3202

60.3

0.95

3.4

46

0.88

14.7a

28

93.8

0.77

1.38

47

88 106

0.91 0.95

3.31 3.67

48

Lactobacillus lactis

109

0.93

1.09

49

Enterococcus faecalis RKY1

102

0.97

4.87

38

Lactobacillus amylophilus GV6

76.2

0.7

0.8

50

L. pentosus ATCC 8041

21.8

0.77

0.8

51

L. plantarum ATCC 21028

41.0

0.97

1.0

34

L. casei NRRL B-441

82.0

0.91

5.6

52

L. bulgaricus NRRL B-548

38.7

0.9

3.5

53

L. helveticus ATTC 15009

65.5

0.66

2.7

54

L. rhamnosus ATCC 10863

67.0

0.84

2.5

55

R. oryzae NRRL 395

104.6

0.87

1.8

20

R. oryzae ATCC 52311

83.0

0.88

2.6

17

L. salivarius sp. salivarius ATCC 11742

28.0

0.92

11

56

L. amylovorus ATCC 33622

93.0

0.52

2.0

57

2.0

58

Streptococcus bovis 148


Rhizopus oryzae
Latobacillus paracasei

L. plantarum ATCC14917
L. acidophilus R
S. thermophilus
a 14.7 g

L1

of lactic acid from 20 g

L1

8.60

0.17

18.0

0.50

59
5.9

60

of raw starch

for lactic acid production. Other homofermentative


species of potential industrial importance are Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus leichmanii, and Streptococcus lactis. All of these bacteria are considered
anaerobes, although they can withstand some oxygen. However, Streptococcus lactis is less sensitive
to oxygen and therefore may also be considered a
facultative aerobe.
The nutritive requirements of the lactic acid
bacteria, specifically members of the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc and Streptococcus, are rather
complex. Various vitamins of the B-complex and
certain amino acids are required for the growth of
these microbes in addition to the usual elements.
Yeast extract and malt sprouts may be used as
sources of vitamins of the B-complex in media used
for the isolation, growth and maintenance of lactic

acid bacteria. Occasionally the addition of extra thiamin may be necessary or desirable for the growth
of some species. They require some elements for
growth, such as carbon and nitrogen sources, in the
form of carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and
minerals.67 Fatty acids also influence lactic acid
bacteria growth, and phosphates are the most important salt in lactic acid fermentation. Ammonium
ions cannot serve as the sole nitrogen source, but
they seem to have some influence on the metabolism of certain amino acids.
Traditionally, the most common nutrients for
the preparation of fermentative media are yeast extract and peptone, which turn out to be very expensive being able to account for almost 30 % of the
total cost of the process. It is desired to find some
new nutrients suitable for an industrial process and

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J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

to replace yeast extract. Generally, the proteins in


nutrients are hydrolyzed into peptides and amino
acids before used for lactic acid production. Some
nutrients, such as casaminoacids,68 soybean hydrolysate69,70 and ram horn protein hydrolyzate,71 have
been used for lactic acid production after hydrolyzed with acids. Hydrolyzed whey protein has
been shown to constitute a rich nutrient source for
the lactic acid bacteria.7275 As lactic acid bacteria
have a limited capacity to synthesize B-vitamins
and amino acids,2 yeast extract is often used to supply all of these factors in bacterial cultures.
For the feasibility of biotechnological production of lactic acid, cheap raw materials are necessary because polymer producers and other industrial users usually require large quantities of lactic
acid at a relatively low cost. Raw materials for lactic acid production should have the following characteristics; cheap, low levels of contaminants, rapid
production rate, high yield, little (or) no byproduct
formation, ability to be fermented with little or no
pretreated and year round availability.76 There have
been many attempts to screen for cheap raw materials for the economical production of lactic acid.
Cheap raw materials, such as starchy and cellulose
materials, whey, and molasses have been used for
lactic acid production.2 Among these, starchy and
cellulose materials are currently receiving a great
deal of attention, because they are cheap, abundant,
and renewable.8,77,78 The starchy materials used for
lactic acid production include sweet sorghum,8,48
wheat straw,23 corn,25 cassava,79 potato,21 rice80,81
and barley.82 These materials have to be hydrolyzed
into fermentable sugars before fermentation, because they consist mainly of a(1,4) and a(1,6)
linked glucose. This hydrolysis can be carried out
simultaneously with fermentation.82 Although a
number of different substrates have been used for
the biotechnological production of lactic acid, most
studies for lactic acid production have been focused
on the pure substrates, such as glucose,83,84 or lactose,32,85 and the natural polysaccharides such as
starch,79,82 or cellulose.78,86 Patil et al.30 reported the
production of lactic acid from cane sugar. Wee et
al.26 used sugar cane molasses for the production of
lactic acid by batch fermentation of Enterococcus
faecalis.
Whey is a major byproduct of the dairy industry, and it contains lactose, protein, fat, and mineral
salts. Amrane et al.87 reported the production of lactic acid from whey and explained the influence of
peptidic nitrogen deficiency. There have been several attempts to produce lactic acid from whey by
batch culture of Lactobacillus casei.88,89 Schepers et
al.54 reported the lactic acid production during pH
controlled batch cultures in whey permeate/yeast
extract medium. Oh et al.38 reported the production

of lactic acid from agricultural resources. Ohkouchi


et al.40 reported the direct production of lactic acid
from starch and food wastes.
Xu et al.43 used soybean stalk to produce lactic
acid production and Ohkouchi et al.90 explained the
production of lactic acid from organic wastes. It is
necessary to supplement the fermentation media
with sufficient nutrients for rapid lactic acid production. The most common nutrient for lactic acid
production is yeast extract, but this may contribute
significantly to an increase in production costs.54
Nancib et al.37 explained the supplementation of vitamin-B and effect of nitrogen sources during the
production of lactic acid. Commonly, lactic acid is
prepared by using refined sugars and starch materials.18,91 In recent years for the sake of decreasing
environmental pollution and expense of lactic acid
production, various wastes like kitchen waste,9294
wastewater sludge,95,96 food processing waste,97 crop
residue including corn cobs, wheat stalk and bran
have been used for lactic acid production.23,25,98

Lactic acid fermentation


Batch, fed-batch, repeated batch, and continuous fermentations were used for lactic acid production. Higher lactic acid concentration was obtained
in batch and fed-batch cultures than in continuous
cultures, whereas higher productivity was achieved
by the use of continuous cultures.2 Another advantage of the continuous culture compared to the
batch culture, is the possibility to continue the process for a longer period of time. Kwon et al.84 attempted to produce lactic acid by a two-stage
cell-recycle culture of L. rhamnosus. They connected
the membrane cell-recycle bioreactors in a series,
and obtained g = 92 g L1of lactic acid with a productivity of P = 57 g L1 h1. Several materials, such
as Ca-alginate gels, poly (ethyleneimine), and plastic composite support, have been used for immobilization of LAB in order to produce lactic acid.99,100
Senthuran et al.33 reported the production of lactic
acid by continuous culture of Lactobacillus casei
immobilized in poly (ethyleneimine). This system
was coupled with a cell-recycle bioreactor, and the
authors observed that the most important factor for
operational stability was the bead size of the matrix.
Amrane et al.32 designed a novel reactor, specialized function two-stage reactor (SFTS) to produce lactic acid. For such systems, volumetric productivity was improved with the help of a novel
two-stage reactor equipped with a separate feeding
line in the second stage. Ninetyseven percent of the
total amount of lactic acid was produced in the second stage. The volumetric productivity obtained
from this novel configuration was close to that of

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

batch in similar conditions. An efficient bioreactor,


termed a synchronized fresh cell bioreactor, was
developed to produce lactic acid from hydrolyzed
sago starch using Lactococcus lactis IO-1.35 Volumetric lactic acid productivities of P = 8.2 g L1,
19.3 g L1 and 33 g L1 were obtained at dilution
rates of D = 0.21 h1, 0.50 h1and 1.1 h1 respectively. Lactic acid is produced from corncobs by
solid-state fermentation.25 Oh et al.38 produced lactic acid from agricultural resources by SSF using
Enterococcus faecalis RKY1. Schepers et al.39 obtained high lactic acid productivity (P = 1922
g L1 h1) and low residual sugar mass concentration
(g < 1 g L1) during continuous fermentation of
whey permeate/yeast extract medium with immobilized Lactobacillus helveticus in a two stage process.
In this two-stage immobilized cell/free-cell process,
an overall lactic acid productivity of P = 13.5 g L1 h1
was reached with g = 1 g L1 residual sugar at an
overall dilution rate of D = 0.27 h1. Extrapolation
of experimental results in this study suggested that a
high lactic acid productivity of up to P = 23 g L1 h1
with low residual sugar could be attainable in a
two-stage immobilized cell process. The effects of
different culture parameters and operating strategies
were tested on lactic acid production from whey
permeate/yeast extract medium by immobilized
Lactobacillus helveticus in a continuous two-stage
process. High lactic acid productivities of P =
1922 g L1 h1 and low residual sugar was
achieved with an overall dilution rate of D = 0.5 h1
and g = 10 g L1 yeast extract. Lowering the yeast
extract mass concentration from g = 10 to 1 g L1
resulted in a gradual loss of activity with time in
both reactors, leading to an overall lactic acid productivity of P = 10.5 g L1 h1 with g = 24 g L1 residual sugar after t = 47 h. Inversion of the first and
second reactor in the two-stage process led to an
important drop in productivity which was only
partly restored in the next 3 days of culture.
Xu et al.42 developed a novel reactor called
membrane cell-recycle bioreactor (MCRB) to produce lactic acid by Lactobacillus paracasei. Using
a MCRB system with a diaphragm pump and tangential flow-rate controlling, a maximum value of
OD620 of 98.7 was obtained which was six times
greater than that of the fed-batch fermentation.
Maximum productivity of P = 31.5 g L1 h1 was recorded which was 10 times greater than the counter
part of fed-batch fermentation. Lactic acid production from sugar molasses by batch fermentation of
Enterococcus faecalis RKY1 was investigated in order to reduce the manufacturing cost of lactic
acid.26 The maximum lactic acid mass concentration of g = 134.9 g L1 and the maximum productivity of P = 4.3 g L1 h1 were obtained. Huang et al.21
studied the biochemical kinetics of simultaneous

251

saccharification and fermentation (SSF) for lactic


acid production by fungal species of Rhizopus
arrhizus 36017 and Rhizopus oryzae 2062 resulting
in lactic acid yield of Y = 0.850.92 g g1 associated
with g = 1.53.5 g L1 fungal biomass produced in
t = 3648 h fermentation. John et al.31 produced
lactic acid from two agro industrial wastes, cassava
baggasse and sugarcane baggasse, as a raw material
and inert solid support using solid-state fermentation (SSF). A maximum yield of Y = 0.249 g g1
L(+)-lactic acid was obtained after 5 days of fermentation under the optimized conditions with a
conversion efficiency of about 99 % of the initial
reducing sugars. Ding et al.101 studied different fed
batch feeding strategies to produce lactic acid. The
pulse fed-batch, constant feed rate fed-batch and
constant glucose concentration fed-batch methods
were not satisfactory for lactic acid production. The
exponential fed-batch method had better results in
L-lactic acid concentration, while the exponential
feeding glucose and yeast extract had the best L-lactic acid production. Compared with the batch culture, the exponential feeding glucose and yeast culture showed 56.5 % improvement in L-lactic acid
production, 68.6 % improvement in dry cell mass
and 59.7 % improvement in productivity, respectively. The maximum lactic acid mass concentration
(g = 210 g L1) and L-lactic acid mass concentration
(g = 180 g L1) in exponential feeding glucose solution (g = 850 g L1) and yeast extract (1 %) was obtained, respectively. The yield, the maximal dry cell
mass and productivity of lactic acid were up to Y =
90.3 %, g = 4.30 g L1, and P = 2.14 g L1 h1 respectively.
Ohashi et al.102 studied a perfusion culture system used for continuous production of lactic acid
by retaining cells at a high density of Lactococcus
lactis in a stirred ceramic membrane reactor
(SCMR). After the cell mass concentration increased to g = 248 g L1, half of the culture broth
volume was replaced with the fermentation medium. Subsequently, a substrate solution containing
glucose or molasses was continuously supplied to
the cells retained in the SCMR. Simultaneously, the
culture supernatant was extracted using a ceramic
filter with a pore diameter of dp = 0.2 mm. The mass
concentration and productivity of lactic acid
reached g = 40 g L1 and P = 10.6 g L1hl, respectively, by continuously replenishing the culture medium at a dilution rate of D = 0.26 hl. These results
demonstrated that the filtration capacity of the
SCMR was sufficient for a continuous and rapid replenishment of molasses solution from the dense
cell culture and, therefore, the perfusion culture
system was considered to provide a low-cost process for continuous production of lactic acid from
cheap resources. Kamoshita et al.103 developed the

252

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

improved SCMR system. Using the improved


SCMR system, a cell mass concentration of g = 178
g L1 and viability of 98 % were obtained after t =
198 h of culture, while it took t = 238 h to obtain a
cell mass concentration of g = 141 g L1 and 94 %
viability without the use of the membrane cleaning
system. The perfusion culture system was applied
to the rapid batch fermentation of lactic acid by retaining cells at a high density in the SCMR. When
the cell mass concentration reached g = 80 g L1,
the culture supernatant was extracted and replaced
with the fermentation medium. Batch fermentation
using the retained cells was repeated six times. The
mass concentration of lactic acid increased to more
than g = 30 g L1 within t = 2 h in each fermentation, while t = 1.2 h was necessary for replacing the
culture supernatant to repeat the batch fermentation.
The production rate of lactic acid was increased in
proportion to the cell concentration, and a high fermentation activity of the retained cells was maintained via the repeated batch fermentation. These
results demonstrate that the improved permeability
of the SCMR with the use of a membrane cleaning
system influenced a rapid increase in the concentration and viability of cells, and accordingly, the increased production rate of lactic acid in proportion
to the concentration of viable cells.
Moueddeb et al.104 developed a new type of
membrane bioreactor for the transformation of lactose into lactic acid by Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
However, as for the majority of membrane systems,
the decrease of permeate flow by membrane fouling
is observed. From an industrial point of view the
problem of sterilization (always present in reactors
with supported microorganisms) and membrane
fouling was partially solved using the fact that inorganic membranes were easily cleaned and sterilized.
It was observed that large contact time and high microorganism concentration were necessary in order
to have good substrate conversions. This model was
a useful tool to estimate the bacteria concentration
profiles into a porous media and to study biological
transformations in a confined media like in soils.
Mostafa et al.105 produced lactic acid from
deproteinized whey using the efficient strain immobilized in an agar gel and fermented in a continuous
fixed bed reactor. The optimal processing temperature and dilution rate were found to be 40 C and D
= 0.33 h1. Maximum volumetric productivities of
lactic acid from whey were P = 7.28 and 9.36 g L1 h1
without and with recycle, respectively. Silva et
al.106 investigated the kinetics and long-term stability of the fibrous-bed bioreactor for continuous lactic acid production from un-supplemented acid
whey containing w = 3.7 % lactose and w = 0.8 %
lactic acid, using immobilized cells of Lactobacillus helveticus at pH 5.5 and 42 C. Depending

on dilution rate and lactate mass concentration, reactor volumetric productivities ranged from P = 2.6
g L1 h1 to 7 g L1 h1. The fibrous bed bioreactor
greatly improved in its packing design to allow for
more uniform structure and to minimize diffusion
limitations, thereby improving cell efficiency and
reactor productivity. A much higher specific cell
productivity was attained in the fibrous bed when
diffusion limitations were eliminated, such as in the
cell-recycle membrane bioreactor systems.

Factors affecting the lactic


acid production
Effect of temperature

The effect of temperature on the production of


lactic acid was studied for various microorganisms
(Table 3). The temperature giving the highest productivity was in some cases lower than the temperature resulting in highest lactic acid mass concentration and yield,52,64 whereas in others the same temperature gave the best results in all categories.1,52
For Lactobacillus amylophilus, which is known to
grow at 15 C but not at 45 C,107 the optimal temperatures were 25 C and 35 C for maximum productivity and yield, respectively.64 For Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei the optimal temperature was reported to be between 37 C
and 44 C,48,52,82 which is contradictory to the information that the strains grow at 15 C but not
at 45 C.107 In agreement with previous observations,107,108 Lactobacillus lactis and Lactobacillus
rhamnosus exhibited the highest yields and
productivities at 33 to 35 C1 and 41 to 45 C,52 respectively. Huang et al.21 investigated the cultivation temperature on the solid-state fermentation of
lactic acid production by controlling the growth
temperatures at 22, 30, 35, and 40 C. The results
from measuring the residual starch and reducing
sugar in 4 h and 8 h indicated that there was an increase in starch hydrolysis and reducing sugar accumulation as the temperature increased from 22 30
C, and a further increase from 30 40 C resulted
in a slight improvement for the saccharification in
both Rhizopus oryzae 2062 and Rhizopus oryzae
36017 cultures. The lactic acid production and biomass growth were affected by the temperature. The
fermentation performance by the Rhizopus arrhizus
36017 appeared to be relatively less sensitive than
by the Rhizopus oryzae 2062 with respect to the
temperature. Consequently, 30 C appeared to be an
optimum cultivation temperature for both saccharification and fermentation by the Rhizopus species
in the SSF. Narita et al.28 examined the effect of
temperature on the production of lactic acid from g
= 20 g L1 raw starch by Streptococcus bovis 148.

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

253

T a b l e 3 Effect of temperature on lactic acid production


Microorganism
L. amylophilus ATCC 49845

L. casei NRRL B-441

L. paracasei No.8

L. rhamnosus ATCC 10863

S. bovis 148

L. lactis sp. lactis ATCC 19435

L. delbrueckii

Substrate

Temp.

Lactic acid mass concentration

q/C

g/g

L1

yield
Y/g g

Productivity
P/g L1 h1

starch

25

26

0.52

0.54

starch

28

29

0.58

0.44

starch

35

30

0.60

0.33

glucose

30

80

0.89

3.2

glucose

37

80

0.89

5.6

glucose

41

82

0.91

5.6

glucose

45

42

0.47

1.2

sweet sorghum

30

1.5

sweet sorghum

36

1.9

sweet sorghum

44

2.2

glucose

30

67

0.74

3.3

glucose

37

70

0.78

3.3

glucose

41

68

0.78

3.5

glucose

45

75

0.83

3.3

raw starch

30

10.6

raw starch

37

14.73

raw starch

45

10.77

glucose

30

60

1.3

2.2

glucose

34

65

1.5

2.8

glucose

37

60

1.5

2.3

glucose

40

50

1.2

1.5

pineapple waste

37

28.73

0.917

The maximum lactic acid mass concentrations at


30, 37, and 45 C were g = 10.60, 14.73 and 10.77
g L1, respectively. The highest yield (Y = 0.88
g g1) and lactic acid mass concentration (g = 14.73
g L1) was obtained at 37 C.
Effect of pH

The fermentation pH is either set at the beginning and then left to decrease due to acid production
or it is controlled by base titration, or by extraction,
adsorption, or electrodialysis of lactic acid. The optimal pH for lactic acid production varies between
5.0 and 7.0. A pH below 5.7 was optimal for
Lactobacillus strains, which are known to tolerate
lower pH than lactococci. Wee et al.26 investigated
the influence of culture pH on lactic acid fermentation from molasses where lactic acid fermentations
were performed on a jar fermentor at 38 C and pH

Ref.
64

52

48

48

28

109

5.09.0 using g = 200 g L1of molasses. Although


the optimum pH for cell growth of Enterococcus
faecalis RKY1 was seen to be 8.0, the lactic acid fermentation at pH 7.0 was completed faster than that at
pH 8.0. The cell growth at pH 5.0 almost ceased
even after 10 h of fermentation. The highest lactic
acid mass concentration (g = 4.0 g L1) was obtained
at pH 7.0 with a comparable yield with pH 6.0.
Huang et al.21 determined the impact of pH on the
starch saccharification and fermentation of lactic
acid by the Rhizopus arrhizus 36017 and Rhizopus
oryzae 2062, the pH was controlled at 4.0, 5.0, 6.0
and 7.0 by adding c = 4 mol L1 NaOH solution at t
= 4 h intervals during the course of cultivation. It
was interesting to note that the volumetric concentration of lactic acid and biomass in the Rhizopus
arrhizus 36017 cultures increased with the increase
in pH. A growth condition with starch mass concen-

254

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

tration approximately g = 20 g L1 at pH 6.0 and was


favorable for both starch saccharification and lactic
acid fermentation, resulting in lactic acid yield of Y =
0.850.92 g g1 associated with g = 1.53.5 g L1
fungal biomass produced in t = 3648 h fermentation.
Senthuran et al.33 investigated the lactic acid production by Lactobacillus casei at different pH values
showed that reactor productivity was highest at pH
6.0 with free cells and at pH 6.5 with immobilized
cells. Productivity as well as free cell density decreased at both lower and higher pH values. The productivity was seen to decrease for successive batches
in immobilized cell reactor at pH 5.5. Fu et al.34 produced lactic acid in batch fermentations with synthetic lactose media by using Lactobacillus plantarum at various pH values ranging from 4 to 7. The
optimal pH range of 5 6 yielded the highest values
of biomass (g = 11.0 g L1) and lactic acid mass concentration (g = 41 g L1). Ohkouchi et al.40 produced
lactic acid economically by direct bioconversion
from starchy substrates by using Lactobacillus manihotivorans LMG18011. The optimum initial pH was
found to occur between 5.0 and 5.5. Above pH 6.0
or below pH 4.5, this strain could not convert all of
the starch to lactic acid.
John et al.31 studied the influence of initial pH
of the fermented medium for lactic acid production
using Lactobacillus delbrueckii. The effect of pH
was tested at various pH values from 410, with
and without buffering. The pH of the moistening
medium was adjusted with c = 1 mol L1 Ca(OH)2
and c = 1 mol L1 HCl. In the absence of buffering,
the pH decreased to less than 3.5 within three days
of fermentation and at low pH resulted in low lactic
acid production. The pH 6.5 was proved the optimum for the lactic acid production (Y = 0.237 g g1).
From pH 79 the yield was quite stable between
Y = 0.1923 and 0.1992 g g1. Idris et al.109 reported
the effect of various initial pH on the lactic acid
production of the immobilized Lactobacillus
delbrueckii during the batch fermentation of liquid
pineapple waste. At initial pH 6.5, cell started to
utilize glucose earlier and at a faster rate than at
other initial pH. Maximum lactic acid concentration
was attained at initial pH 6.5 with a yield of g =
29.02 g L1 or Y = 92.7 %. Further increase in initial pH beyond 6.5 does not improve the lactic acid
production. It is possible that the higher initial pH
brought too much stress on the microorganism metabolic abilities.46
Effect of carbon sources

A number of different substrates have been


used for the fermentative production of lactic acid
by LAB. The purest product is obtained when a
pure sugar is fermented, resulting in lower purifica-

tion costs. However, this is economically unfavorable, because pure sugars are expensive and lactic
acid is a cheap product. Instead, waste products from
agriculture and forestry were utilized as shown in
Table 4. The study on lactic acid production by
Senthuran et al.33 with free cell cultivations in a medium containing different sugars revealed that
Lactobacillus casei preferred lactose as a carbon
source for its growth and lactic acid production, followed by glucose and maltose, while sucrose was
poorly utilized. This was in contrast to the report by
Ohleyer et al.110 where glucose was the preferred
substrate by Lactobacillus delbrueckii. Lactose
used at the mass concentration of g = 50 g L1 in
synthetic medium was completely utilized by the
cells giving a productivity of P = 2.0 g L1 h1 and
final cell mass of g = 5.1 g L1, while delayed
growth and incomplete substrate utilization was observed in the medium containing only glucose at
the same concentration. The preliminary experiment of Yun et al.24 with vial cultivation in a medium containing the different sugars revealed that
Enterococcus faecalis RKY1 utilized glucose, fructose, and maltose as carbon sources for growth and
lactic acid production, while galactose and sucrose
were metabolized to formic acid and acetic acid as
main products, and xylose, glycerol, whey, and
starch were poorly utilized. When Enterococcus
faecalis RKY1 was cultivated on these three carbon
sources, cell growth and lactic acid formation patterns were similar. The highest volumetric productivity was found to be with cells grown in a medium containing fructose, which was completely
utilized within t = 35 h. The average volumetric
productivity and yield of lactic acid was P = 4.12
g L1 h1 and Y = 0.96 g-lactic acid (g-fructose)1 respectively. In many lactic acid bacteria (LAB),
fructose metabolism generally differs from glucose
metabolism in that fructose acts both as a growth
substrate and electron acceptor. When Enterococcus
faecalis RKY1 was grown on a mixture of glucose
(g = 75 g L1) and fructose (g = 75 g L1) the cell
growth and volumetric productivity were higher
than growth on each sugar alone. Furthermore, for
the lactic acid fermentations with glucose/fructose,
glucose/maltose, and fructose/maltose mixtures as
carbon sources, Enterococcus faecalis RKY1 grown
on a mixture of glucose/fructose simultaneously
consumed these sugars, and the cell growth and average volumetric productivity were higher than
when grown on the individual sugars. Ohkouchi et
al.40 selected glucose, soluble starch, and starch
from rice or potato as carbon sources. At initial pH
6.5 the saccharification of starch was inhibited.
Therefore, Lactobacillus manihotivorans LMG18011
was unable to take up carbohydrate or produce lactic acid under this condition.

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

255

T a b l e 4 Effect of carbon sources on lactic acid production


Microorganism

Lactic acid mass concentration Yield

Substrate

g/g

L1

Y/g g

Productivity
P/g L1 h1

glucose

21

0.95

1.6

corn starch

33

0.73

0.88

cassava starch

4.8

0.48

0.69

corn starch

10

1.0

1.2

potato starch

4.2

0.42

0.14

rice starch

7.9

0.79

0.86

wheat starch

7.8

0.78

1.2

L. delbrueckii sp. bulgaricus CBS 743.84 glucose

35

0.85

lactose

37

0.82

glucose

56

2.8

cellobiose

32

1.6

glucose

95

0.95

5.6

sweet sorghum

91

0.91

10

glucose

46

0.92

2.4

xylose

27

0.54

0.59

glucose+xylose

90

1.8

4.0

glucose

17

0.86

fructose

14

0.71

glucose + fructose

16

0.81

sucrose

15

0.73

hydrolyzed soluble starch

15

0.30

hydrolyzed tapioca starch

15

0.30

hydrolyzed tapioca flour

17

0.35

glucose

5.4

0.54

galactose

3.7

0.37

mannose

5.7

0.57

L. amylophilus ATCC 49845

L. amylovorus

L. delbrueckii sp. bulgaricus CNRZ359

L. paracasei No. 8

L. pentosus

L. rhamnosus ATCC 10863

L. plantarum

L. plantarum NRRL B-531

However, at initial pH 5.5, lactic acid production occurred with all carbon sources. Kadam et
al.118 used different carbohydrate sources to produce lactic acid. When the medium containing glucose, fructose, lactose or galactose was used as carbon source, mutant Uc-3 could produce lactic acid
more efficiently than the parent strain. The maltose,
xylose and sucrose were utilized very poorly for
growth by both the mutant and parent strains resulting in no lactic acid production. The optimal carbon
sources for lactic acid production were found to be
glucose, fructose, lactose or galactose.

Ref.
111

79

112

113

48

114

115

116

117

Effect of nitrogen sources

The medium composition has been investigated


from many aspects, including the addition of various mass concentrations of nutrients in the form of
yeast extract, peptone or corn steep liquor. The addition of nutrients and higher nutrient mass concentrations generally had a positive effect on the lactic
acid production. MRS medium, which contains
yeast extract, peptone and meat extract, was superior to yeast extract, which in turn was better than
malt extract. Senthuran et al.33 used a synthetic medium which contains g = 10 g L1 yeast extract as a

256

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

nitrogen source. Higher concentration or a better


nitrogen source may improve the reactor performance. Yeast extract is considered an essential nutrient for lactobacilli for an efficient lactic acid production.119 The performance of lactic acid fermentation with hydrolyzed whey protein and yeast extract
was compared. Whey can be directly subjected to
enzymatic treatment.75 Replacing the yeast extract
containing synthetic medium with whey protein
based medium (maintaining the same level of elemental nitrogen) containing lactose and glucose at
the same mass ratio (z = 1:19) resulted in a higher
lactate production rate by the free cells giving a
productivity of 2.8 and P = 1.7 g L1 h1. A variety
of nitrogen sources have been tested for lactic acid
production, but they did not give the product concentrations as high as those obtained with yeast extract.120 Ohkouchi et al.90 reported that lactic acid
productivities were improved by the supplementation of nitrogen sources with tryptone, beef extract, and MRS-complex. In particular, supplementation with tryptone or MRS-complex, the total nitrogen contents were improved to 0.58 % and
0.72 %, respectively, and both the acceleration of
the bioconversion rate and a doubling of lactic acid
production, from g = 35 g L1 up to g = 70 g L1,
were observed. There was a little improvement of
the bioconversion only by nitrogen supplementation with beef extract (the total nitrogen content;
w = 0.48 %). Zhou et al.121 attempted nitrogen supplements for the bioconversion of municipal solid
waste to lactic acid by Lactobacillus pentosus
B-227.
Nancib et al.37 reported the effects of supplementing date juice with different nitrogen sources
such as yeast extract, ammonium sulfate, tryptic soy,
urea, peptone and casein hydrolysate on the lactic
acid product performance of Lactobacillus casei
subsp. rhamnosus. None of the non-yeast-extract nitrogen sources gave lactic acid concentrations as
high as that of yeast extract. On the other hand, ammonium sulfate seems to be a good alternative to
yeast extract. Among the nitrogen sources tested,
urea gave the lowest mass concentrations of lactic
acid (g = 14.1 g L1). Traditionally, the most common nutrients for the preparation of fermentative
media are yeast extract and peptone, which turn out
to be very expensive being able to account for almost 30 % of the total cost of the process. Because
of this, the search for alternative, financially competitive nutrient sources is particularly interesting.
Effect of mineral salts

Mineral salts play a vital role in the lactic acid


fermentation. Chauhan et al.122 screened various
medium components by Plackett-Burman design at

the confidence level of 95 % on the basis of their


effects. The components KH2PO4, MgSO4 7 H2O,
NaCl, tri-sodium citrate and sodium succinate were
found to be less significant on lactic acid products.
The components, peptone, beef extract, yeast extract, K2HPO4, sodium acetate, sodium sulfate,
FeSO4 7 H2O, and MnSO4 4 H2O were found to
be significant. Nitrogen source was found to be
significant at g = 1.0 g L1 concentration during
solid-state fermentation using wheat bran and during selection of media components for lactic acid
production by Lactobacillus plantarum NCIM 2084
at 1.0 g L1.98,123 Sodium acetate was also found significant at 99.43 % confidence level. It enhanced
the cell growth and thus influenced the production
indirectly.124 Tween-80 has also been reported to be
significant component for lactic acid production using wheat bran under solid-state fermentation98 and
for production of enzymes. Among the phosphate
sources used, only K2HPO4 was significant and
there was considerable difference in lactic acid production among the two phosphate sources.
Vasala et al.41 produced lactic acid from Lactobacillus ssp. salicinius. It grew slowly in the absence of peptides even in the presence of high
amount of whey proteins. In order to reach a high
concentration of lactic acid, reasonable high number of bacteria should be achieved before product
inhibition stops the growth.125 Fast growth and correspondingly, significantly higher lactic acid accumulation was achieved by supplementing the medium with either yeast extract or by treating the medium with proteolytic enzymes.

Purification of lactic acid


Lactic acid is sold in various commercial
grades, and the better grades require that well-purified substrates be utilized in the fermentation medium in order to reduce the levels of impurities
present during recovery which, without great difficulty, cannot be separated from the lactic acid.
Also, in this regard, the sugar should be depleted
from the medium by harvest of the fermentation.
One of the commercial grades of lactic acid,
crude or technical grade is a colored product
prepared for commercial usage at mass fraction in
water of w = 22, 44, 50, 66 and 80 %. It is prepared
by employing sulfuric acid to remove the calcium
from the calcium lactate derived from the heated
and filtered fermentation broth, followed by filtration, concentration, and refiltration to remove additional calcium sulfate. Thus, this grade of lactic acid
contains many of the impurities from the fermentation medium, and it finds many industrial uses
where purity of the product is not essential as, for

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

example, in the deliming of hides in the leather industry. The edible grade of lactic acid is snow colored and is marketed 5080 % strengths. Thus, it
receives additional refining over that of technical
lactic acid. Colorless, high purity lactic acids are
the plastic grade, marketed at 5080 % strength,
and U.S.P. Lactic acid marketed at 5080 %
strengths. Other commercial preparations of lactic
acid are calcium lactate, sodium lactate, and copper
lactate (a salt used in electroplating). The final recovered yields of technical and edible-grade lactic
acids, based on the original carbohydrate of the medium, are approximately 8590 % and 80 %, respectively. Plastic and U.S.P grades are prepared by
further refining of technical grade lactic acid and
therefore, slight to moderate yield losses are incurred during this refining. Lactic acid is commercially available at different grades (qualities). They
are technical grade lactic acid (2080 %), food
grade lactic acid (80 %), pharmacopoeia grade lactic acid (90 %), and plastic grade lactic acid. Pharmaceutical and food grade lactic acids are considerable to be of most important.
For the recovery of lactic acid, additional calcium carbonate is added to the medium, the pH is
adjusted to approximately 10, and the fermentation
broth is heated and then filtered. This procedure
converts all of the lactic acid to calcium lactate,
kills bacteria, coagulates protein of the medium, removes excess calcium carbonate and helps to decompose any residual sugar in the medium. Various
processes are employed for the recovery and purification of the lactic acid. In one procedure, the
heated and filtered fermentation broth is concentrated to allow crystallization of calcium lactate,
followed by addition of sulfuric acid to remove the
calcium as calcium sulfate. The lactic acid is then
re-crystallized as calcium lactate, and activated carbon is used to remove colored impurities. As an alternative to the latter step, the zinc salts of lactic
acid are sometimes prepared because of the relatively lower solubility of zinc lactate. In other procedure, the free lactic acid is solvent extracted with
isopropyl ether directly from the heated and filtered
fermentation broth. This is a counter current continuous extraction, and the lactic acid is recovered
from the isopropyl ether by further counter-current
washing of the solvent with water. In a third procedure, the methyl ester of the free lactic acid is prepared, and this is separated from the fermentation
broth by distillation followed by hydrolysis of the
ester by boiling in dilute water solution (the methyl
ester decomposes in water). The lactic acid is then
obtained from the aqueous solution by evaporation
of the water, and the methanol is recovered by distillation. In a fourth procedure, secondary or tertiary alkyl amine salts of lactic acid are formed and

257

then extracted from aqueous solution with organic


solvents; the solvent is removed by evaporation,
and the salt then is decomposed to yield the free
acid. An older procedure, not utilized commercially
to any extent today, involves direct high-vacuum
steam distillation of the lactic acid from the fermentation broth, but decomposition of some of the lactic acid occurs.
The fermentation broth is generally heated to
70 C to kill the bacteria and then acidified with
sulfuric acid to pH 1.8. The clarified lactic liquor is
then ion exchanged and concentrated to 80 %.
Smell and taste can be improved further by oxidative treatment with hydrogen peroxide. The lactic
acid obtained at this stage is suitable for some food
industries. The lactic acid produced from biological
fermentation requires extensive purification operations. It is of particular importance that the recovery
processing equipment be resistant to the corrosive
action of the high concentrations of lactic acid that
accumulate. Therefore, special stainless steel equipment is most often employed for this purpose.
Sun et al.126 used two reactors with a rectifying
column carried out recovery of lactic acid from the
fermentation broth. Ammonium lactate obtained by
fermentation was used directly to produce butyl lactate by reacting with butanol for 6 h, and the
esterification yield of ammonium lactate was Y =
87.7 %. In this procedure, a cation exchange resin
which was modified by SnCl2 replaced sulphuric
acid as a catalyst, and neutral ammonium lactate replaced former lactic acid as a starting material,
which not only eliminated corrosion of a reactor,
but also avoid generating calcium salts as a byproduct. Then butyl lactate was rectified, and the purified butyl lactate was sequentially hydrolyzed into
lactic acid in presence of the cation exchange resin
in the H+ form as a catalyst for 4 h, and the hydrolysis yield was 89.7 % and the purity of recovered
lactic acid was 90 %.
Bouchoux et al.127 investigated nanofiltration
for usability in a specific lactic acid production process based on conventional and bipolar electrodialysis operations. Industrial fluids, corresponding
to two potential integration levels and coming from
an existing installation, were investigated. Nanofiltration was able to efficiently remove magnesium
and calcium ions from a sodium lactate fermentation broth before its concentration and conversion
by electrodialysis (first potential integration level).
Maximum impurities rejections and lactate recovery were obtained at maximum transmembrane
pressures. Mg2+ and Ca2+ rejections were 64 7 and
72 7 %, respectively and lactate recovery flux
reached 25 2 mol m2 h1 for pressure p = 20 bar.
Sulfate and phosphate ions were also partially removed from the broth (40 % rejection). At the in-

258

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

vert, chloride ions were negatively retained by the


membrane and were consequently more concentrated in the permeate. Nanofiltration also led to a
nearly total decolouration of the fermentation broth.
On the other hand, sulfate and phosphate rejections
obtained from the filtration of a converted broth
containing the lactic acid under its neutral form
(second potential integration level) were also satisfactory, i.e. 47 5 and 51 5 %, respectively. High
recovery fluxes were observed in that case, i.e. J =
48 2 mol m2 h1 at p = 20 bar.
Tong et al.128 reported the purification results
of lactic acid from the fermentation broth with paper sludge as a cellulosic feedstock using weak anion exchanger Amberlite IRA-92. Some factors
such as flow rate, sample volume loaded, pH, and
column were systematically examined to improve
the purity, yield and productivity in lactic acid purification. Adsorption isotherm of standard lactic acid
and lactic acid in the fermentation broth by anion
exchanger IRA-92 were also investigated. Results
indicate that in purification process the increase of
pH of the fermentation broth ranging from 5.0 to
6.0 can significantly enhance the recovery yield,
purity and productivity. The decrease of flow rate
and sample volume loaded can also improve the recovery yield and purity but apparently reduce the
productivity. In addition, the scale-up of purification process in laboratory size had little influence
on the recovery yield and purity. After optimization, the yield, purity and productivity were found
to be about 82.6 %, 96.2 % and 1.16 g LA / (g-resin
day), respectively.
Madzingaidzo et al.129 studied purification of
cell free sodium lactate solutions by mono- and
bi-polar electro dialysis. Lactate was concentrated
by mono-polar electrodialysis to a maximum of g =
150 g L1. At high feed mass lactate flux reached G
= 300 g m2 h1 with correspondingly high current
efficiency in the 90 % range. Relatively low water
transport rates were observed during processing
with mono-polar electrodialysis. A low incidence
of impurities was observed in the concentrate solutions with less than g = 2 g L1 glucose and g = 1.5
g L1 acetate detected respectively. Subsequent purification with bi-polar electrodialysis yielded good
performance parameters with water transport rates
as low as m = 70 g H2O per mol L1 lactate and lactate flux reaching a high of G = 300 g m2 h1. Current efficiency for bi-polar electrodialysis was in
excess of h = 90 %. Free lactic acid mass concentration reached a moderate of 160 g L1 while colour and other chemical impurities were significantly reduced. Additional bleaching and de-ionisation process steps should however be integrated to
polish the free lactic acid for high-grade applications in the biodegradable thermoplastic and phar-

maceutical industries. Acetic acid impurity remained at around g = 1 g L1. Significant reduction
in colour and minerals in the product streams was
observed during electrodialysis purification.
The physico-chemical and operating effects of
lactic acid, sodium lactate and ammonium lactate
on the RO process have been investigated using a
polyamide composite membrane by Liew et al.130
This particular type of membrane was found to
swell at pH 2.2 but had no detectable solute-membrane affinity. The flux and permeate concentration
were found to be an inverse function, whereas the
solute reduction factor was a direct function of the
pH value of feed. This was attributed to the greater
concentration of ions dissociated into the solution
as the pH was increased, and the fact that hydrated
ions possess larger sizes than molecules by merit of
their charge densities is believed to help enhance
rejection by their lower rates of diffusion. At this
stage, ammonium hydroxide is considered to be the
optimum pH-controlling agent for lactic acid production by virtue of its reasonably high flux and
solute rejection as well as its capability to augment
cell growth by acting as a nitrogen source. In terms
of operating conditions, an increase in pressure
from p = 1 MPa to 7 MPa has contributed to a
higher flux, which outweighs the effect of the increasing total solute loss and consequently leads to
an increase in solute rejection. On the contrary, an
increase in feed mass fraction, especially to w
3.80 %, has incurred pronounced effects on concentration polarization, leading to a reduced solute rejection and concentration efficiency.

Applications of lactic acid


Food industry

Lactic acid is widely used in almost every segment of the food industry, where it serves in a wide
range of functions. The major use of lactic acid is in
food and food-related applications, which, in the
U.S., accounts for approximately 85 % of the
demand. The rest (~ 15 %) of the uses are for
non-food industrial applications. Lactic acid occurs
naturally in many food products. It has been in use
as an acidulant, preservative and pH regulator for
quite some time. There are many properties of lactic acid which make it a very versatile ingredient in
the food industry. It has a pronounced preservative
action, and it regulates the microflora. It has been
found to be very effective against certain type of
microorganisms. Some times a combination of lactic acid and acetic acid is used as it has a greater
bactericidal activity. The calcium salt of lactic acid,
calcium lactate, has greater solubility than the corresponding salt of citric acid. In such products

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

where turbidity caused by calcium salts is a problem, the use of lactic acid gives products that are
clear. L(+)-lactic acid is the natural acid found in biological systems and hence its use as an acidulant
and does not introduce a foreign element into the
body. Moreover, lactic acid is used commercially in
the processed meat and poultry industries, to provide products with an increased shelf life, enhanced
flavor, and better control of food-born pathogens.
Another potential application of lactic acid in the
food industry is the mineral fortification of food
products.
Confectionery

Lactic acid finds use as an acidulant in the confectionery industry. It is a better acidulant than citric acid since the sugar inversion is less when used
for hardboiled candies. It does not have the initial
burst of flavor and tanginess of citric acid. Lactic
acid imparts a mellower and lasting sourness and
enhances the flavor much more. The use of buffered lactic acid in continuous production lines for
high boiled sweets is a more recent application.
Liquid buffered lactic acid may be converted easily
to the molten syrups, even at the high temperatures
used in depositing lines. In sugar confectionery it is
used in continuous production lines for high boiled
sweets (like bonbons) to make perfectly clear
sweets, with minimum sugar inversion and with no
air trapped. Lactic acid is used in confectionery, not
only for flavor, but also to bring the pH of the
cooked mix to the correct point for setting.

259

the brine and flavor. A mixture of acetic acid and lactic acid in pickled products such as gherkins, silver
skin onion etc. imparts a milder taste and flavor, and
improves microbial stability. Calcium lactate is reported to be used as firming salt, which have been
used for canned fruits and vegetables.
Dairy products

Direct acidification with lactic acid, in dairy


products such as cottage cheese, is preferred to fermentation as the risks of failure and contamination
can be avoided. The processing time also can be reduced. Lactic acid and calcium lactate are used extensively in the production of Channa and Panneer
by direct acidification. Lactic acid is also used as an
acidulant in dairy products like cheese, margarine
and yogurt powder. In dairy products such as cottage cheese, addition of lactic acid is preferred to
fermentation.
Bakery products

Lactic acid is used as an acidulant in delicately


flavored soft drinks and fruit juices. It does not
mask or over power the natural flavor. Its flavor enhancing property makes the beverage more palatable and leaves a lingering taste. Lactic acid is preferred over citric acid for these reasons. Use of buffered lactic acid improves the taste and flavor of
many beverages, such as soft drinks, mineral water,
carbonated fruit juices etc.

For direct acidification of certain breads, lactic


acid is the natural sour dough acid. The general appearance of a loaf of bread is greatly improved by
the use of bacterial lactic acid, a larger loaf results
per weight of bread with improved bloom, and
color of crust. Lactic acid is directly added to certain types of fermented dough crispy biscuits. Lactic acid added to dough increases the shelf life due
to its retarding action on molds and rope. The sodium and calcium stearoyl lactylates find use as
emulsifiers in the baking industry as they provide
substantial quality improvement of baked products
besides reducing shortening levels. In bakery products it is used for direct acidification of rye or
rye-wheat breads. It increases butter stability and
volume. Part of the egg albumen can be replaced by
less expensive calcium lactate. A large fraction (w >
50 %) of the lactic acid for food-related uses goes
to produce emulsifying agents used in foods, particularly for bakery goods. These emulsifying agents
are esters of lactate salts with longer chain fatty acids, and the four important products are calcium
and sodium, stearoyl-2-1actylate, glyceryl lactostearate, and glyceryl lactopalmirate. Of the stearoyl
lactylates, the calcium salt is a very good dough
conditioner, and the sodium salt is both a conditioner and an emulsifier for yeast leavened bakery
products. The glycerates and palmitates are used in
prepared cake mixes and other bakery products and
in liquid shortenings.

Olives, pickles, cabbage, gherkins

Meat and meat products

Green olives, gherkins and others are often packed


in a solution of salt, lactic acid and water. The lactic
acid acts as a preservative and improves the clarity of

Lactic acid is widely used in meat products as


an antimicrobial agent. Decontamination of beef,
poultry and pork carcasses in slaughterhouse opera-

Beer and wine

Lactic acid is a natural beer acid and hence it is


used for pH adjustments during the mashing process and in wort cooking. Lactic acid improves the
microbial stability and also enhances the flavor of
beer during the manufacturing process.
Beverages

260

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

tions is practiced to reduce Salmonella infection. In


sausages, sodium lactate is used to reduce water activity and achieve higher shelf life. Recent research
publication indicates the use of hot lactic acid spray
on carcasses where reduction of over 99 % of E.
coli has been observed. Lactic acid is also used in
the improvement of shelf-life of buffalo meat.131 An
emerging new use for lactic acid or its salts is in the
disinfection and packaging of carcasses, particularly those of poultry and fish, where the addition
of aqueous solutions of lactic acid and its salts during the processing increased shelf life and reduced
the growth of anaerobic spoilage organisms such as
Clostridium botulinum.
Cosmetic industry

Lactic acid offers natural ingredients for cosmetic applications. Although primarily used as
moisturizers and pH regulators, they possess multiple other properties such as antimicrobial activity,
skin lightening, and skin hydration. The moisturizing effect is related directly to lactates water retaining capacity, and the skin-lightening action of lactic
acid is produced by the suppression of the formation of tyrosinase. Since they are natural ingredients
of the human body, lactic acid and its salt fit perfectly into the modern trend towards natural and
safer formulations, and they produce such effects as
skin lightening and rejuvenation which makes them
very useful as active ingredients in cosmetics. Lactic acid is popularly known as an alpha hydroxy
acid (AHA) in the cosmetics industry. It is widely
used as a milder alternative to glycolic acid. It is
primarily used as an anti-aging chemical claimed to
soften lines, reduce photo damage from the sun, improve skin texture and tone and improve overall appearance. Precautions should be taken when using
lactic acid as a cosmetic agent because it can increase sensitivity to the sun's UV radiation.

Chemical industry

Currently, lactic acid is considered the most


potential feedstock monomer for chemical conversions, because it contains two reactive functional
groups, a carboxylic group and a hydroxyl group.
Lactic acid can undergo a variety of chemical conversions into potentially useful chemicals, such as
propylene oxide (via hydrogenation), acetaldehyde
(via decarboxylation), acrylic acid (via dehydration), propanoic acid (via reduction), 2,3-pentanedione (via condensation), and dilactide (via
self-esterification) (Fig. 3). In the chemical industries, lactic acid is used in the dyeing of silks and
other textile goods, as a mordant in the printing of
woolens, in the bating and plumping of leathers, in
the deliming of hides, in vegetable tanning, and as a
flux for soft solders. The water-white grade is used
in plastic industry. Lactic acid functions as a
descaling agent, pH regulator, neutralizer, chiral intermediate, solvent, cleaning agent, slow acid-release agent, metal complexing agent, antimicrobial
agent, and humectant. Natural lactic acid has an
emerging use as an excellent and safe solvent,
which is alternative in many fine mechanical cleaning applications. Due to the high solvency power
and solubility of lactic acid, it is an excellent remover of polymer and resins.
Pharmaceutical industry

Lactic acid is also used in the pharmaceutical


industry as an electrolyte in many parenteral/I.V.
(intravenous) solutions that are intended to replenish the bodily fluids or electrolytes. Examples include Lactated Ringers or Hartmanns solutions,
CAPD (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis)
solution, and dialysis solution for conventional artificial kidney machines. Moreover, lactic acid is
used in a wide variety of mineral preparations,
which includes tablets, prostheses, surgical sutures,

F i g . 3 Lactic acid potential products and technologies3

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

and controlled drug delivery systems. Lactic acid


has many pharmaceutical formulations, particularly
in topical ointments, lotions, anti acne solutions,
humectants, parental solutions and dialysis applications, for anti carries agent. Its biodegradable polymer has medical applications as sutures, orthopedic
implants, controlled drug release etc. Poly L-lactic
acid is used in many medical products such as
stitches and screws used to repair broken bones.
The calcium salt is widely used for calcium-deficiency therapy and as an effective anti-caries
agent.
They provide the energy and volume for blood
besides regulation of pH. Calcium, sodium, ferrous
and other salts of lactic acid are used in the pharmaceutical industry in various formulations. Lactate
salts have better absorption, solubility and are easily metabolized resulting in administration of some
very important drugs like ciprofloxacin as a lactate
salt. Lactic acid based formulations find use for
their antitumor activity. The antimicrobial action
of lactic acid is taken advantage for use as sanitizers. It is reported that lactic acid finds use in
the treatment of dermatological problems like
warts.
Polymer industry

Lactic acid has recently received a great deal of


attention as a feedstock monomer for the production of polylactic acid (PLA), which serves as a
biodegradable commodity plastic. The optically
pure lactic acid can be polymerized into a high molecular mass PLA through the serial reactions
of polycondensation, depolymerization, and ring
opening polymerization. Table 5 shows the uses of
various potential polymer products of lactic acid.
T a b l e 5 Potential products from lactic acid
Product
degradable plastics

Uses
packaging, films

oxychemicals:
propylene glycol

polymers, food deicers, humectants

acrylates

polymers, plastic films, coatings

propylene oxide

polymers, plastics

green chemicals/solvents: plasticizers, food processing


esters

packaging

ester derivatives

same as above

plant growth regulators:


poly-L-lactates

mulch film for vegetable and


fruit crops

261

The resultant polymer, PLA, has numerous uses in


a wide range of applications, such as protective
clothing, food packaging, mulch film, trash bags,
rigid containers, shrink wrap, and short shelf-life
trays.
Other applications

Technical grade lactic acid is used as an


acidulant in vegetable and leather tanning industries. Lactic acid is being used in many small scale
applications like pH adjustment hardening baths for
cellophanes used in food packaging, terminating
agent for phenol formaldehyde resins, alkyl resin
modifier, solder flux, lithographic and textile printing developers, adhesive formulations, electroplating and electro-polishing baths, detergent builders.
It is also used for the extraction of fish skin gelatin.132 In recent days it is used in the field of soft
tissue augmentation and also used as adhesive in
lamination industries.133
Lactic acid has better descaling properties than
conventional organic descalers due to which reason
it is used in many decalcification applications such
as cleaners for toilets, bathrooms etc. Lactate esters
like ethyl, methyl lactate etc. are used for degreasing since they have excellent action for oils,
oligomeric and polymeric stains. Lactic acid is used
in Ni plating process because of its unique
complexing constant for Ni. Lactic acid is used as a
pH regulator and complexing agent in various
binder systems for waterbased coatings such as
electro-deposition coatings. Lactates find use as
neutralizers in the production of certain types of
surfactants, used in special detergents and personal
care products.

Conclusions
Lactic acid is one of the most important chemical that can be derived from renewable resources
like refined sugars, molasses, whey, raw starchy
materials and lignocellulose which is used to make
a wide variety of useful products. The current major
markets for lactic acid are food related industries,
but the emerging markets for polylactic acid polymer would cause a significant increase in growth of
lactic acid consumption. Many investigations explained the various factors such as plant size, raw
material cost, and various microorganisms involved
in the production of lactic acid, and capital investment. However, there are still several researches
that need to be addressed in order to produce lactic
acid biotechnologically within the targeted cost, development of high-performance lactic acid producing microorganisms and lowering the cost of the
raw materials.

262

J. VIJAYAKUMAR et al., Recent Trends in the Production, Purification and , Chem. Biochem. Eng. Q. 22 (2) 245264 (2008)

List of symbols

c
D
G
J
m
P
p
t
w
Y
g
q
h
z

concentration, mol L1
dilution rate, h1

mass flux, g m2 h1

molar flux, mol m2 h1


mass, g

productivity, g L1 h1
pressure, bar, MPa
time, h
mass fraction, %
yield, %

mass concentration, g L1
temperature, C
efficiency, %
mass ratio

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